The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have come through very different roads to yet another NBA Finals. The Spurs emerged from the Texas Triangle while beating well coached and feisty rival in the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the Western Conference. The Spurs made it out in seven despite flashes of a vintage Vince Carter hitting a spectacular game winner with the potent combination of underrated scorer Monta Ellis, who averaged 20.4 ppg with 2.9 apg, and the aging Dirk Nowitzki going 19.1 ppg and 7.3 rbg, according to the NBA’s official website. They follow up with a strong series against an impressive but young Portland Trailblazer who got punched in the mouth by the intensity of the second round. Who knew that keeping Lamarcus Aldridge from dropping 35 or more every night would culminate to a ticket to the next round? Dwight Howard and Omer Asik sure didn’t. Aldridge scored 29.8 ppg and grabbed 11.2 rbg against Houston Rockets. Their inept attempts on defense made Aldridge look like the second coming of “Hakeem The Dream.”
Then there came thunder for the Spurs who were swept by Oklahoma City in the regular season. If you want to call Serge Ibaka going down the first two games a lucky break for Coach Pop so be it, but as the rest of the series continued you could see the better team won. “Iblocka” did not even seem to matter in San Antonio where Manu Ginobli and “Mr. Fundamental” Tim Duncan punished the Thunder whenever Scott Brooks made the mistake of going small. A mistake he made again and again and again, and again. Now this tested big three of Hall of Fame veterans will clash against another “Big Three” in Miami who had a much easier road.
We should all just face the fact that the Eastern Conference is not what it used to be and many of the greatest rivalries in basketball have all but disappeared. Miami cruised past the Charlotte Bobcats led by a hobbled Al Jefferson with a clean sweep. The six foot ten center had the offensive and rebounding skills to cause problems against a relatively small Miami Heat but always seems to catch the injury bug at the worst times going all the way back to Utah. The defending champs caught a similar break with the Brooklyn Nets whose seven foot one center Brook Lopez stayed in a suit for practically the entire season. Despite the talks of the Nets wanting this grudge match with Paul Pierce and Lebron James and sweeping them in the regular season, the Nets just couldn’t get Joe Johnson to shoot their way out of well-timed double teams along with a Deron Williams only having 11.2 ppg and 6.2 apg against the Miami Heat who is an absolute shell of what he used to be. Combine that with a terrorizing Lebron going for 30 ppg with 6.4 rbg who had to do everything in that series and you see why they lost. Now that takes me to the next and probably the most disappointing series in the 2014 playoffs so far, Heat vs Pacers.
All the hype and yik yak spewed out of the Pacers statements of having home court ensure a trip to the finals turned out to be nothing more than fattening. Roy Hibbert delivered several donut games to go alongside the inconsistent performance of Paul George who looked like he really needed some mentoring from “Bron Bron” on how to elevate from All-star to Superstar. You knew this series was over before it began with all the finger pointing this team did loss after loss and when you start blowing in another grown man’s ear you know you are out of options. I’m sure Lance Stephenson would agree with me on that.
Now the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat are set to square off for what could be the last time for these two teams as they are presently constructed. Time is catching up to the “boring old” Spurs as Duncan and Ginobli get older with a Tony Parker who isn’t exactly a young man anymore. Without these three as the foundation in Gregg Popovich’s system of high and low ball screens with immaculate ball movement and three point shooting this team won’t have much raw talent to mold aside from a young Kawhi Leonard. On the other side, Lebron is trying to chase Jordan’s legacy and can make a strong case with his first three-peat to go beside all those MVPs. When all this started for the Heat they promised us about 7 rings but three could be all Miami gets as the “Big Three” face a very important offseason that can end with Lebron taking his talents to New York, L.A, or back to Cleveland.
So who is going to take the title this year between these two champions this year? Considering the age of the Spurs star players and their much more difficult road through the Western Conference I would say that the Heat are in a special position to be one of the all-time greatest teams ever assembled and cap off a dominating era in the NBA. No matter how deep the Spurs may be with their home court advantage, if Dwyane Wade returns as Flash like he did in the 2013 Finals with Bosh able to compete with an older Tim Duncan I just don’t see the Heat getting beat. Everyone loves to chant “Beat the Heat” when this Miami team is on the road but no one has yet to do so ultimately. I got Miami defending their title 4-2 in a very competitive six game series. Please San Antonio, no more blowouts. -Keith ¤
(Photo Cred. losthatsprotsblog.com)